If you want to improve your brand image and visibility, the secret may be finding out how to make your employees brand ambassadors. Learn more in this guide.
If you are looking for ways to enhance your branding and engage more customers, it might be time to look at how to make your employees brand ambassadors.
Of course, this might be tricky for some businesses, especially those who just treat their employees as simple human resources. But your workers can and should be your greatest champions—in fact, they could very well be your most ardent spokespeople on social media if you engage them in the right way (1).
“Your employees have a deep understanding of your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, putting them in prime position to promote your company,” he adds.
Why Brand Ambassadors are Important
The reason why brand ambassadors are important is simple: you need people to represent and talk about your brand with your audience (2).
A brand ambassador is an individual who is a contextual fit with your brand, its image, and/or the products and services you sell. As the name suggests, an ambassador is someone who speaks for your brand, which is why you should have someone who is credible enough to gain your audience’s trust, thereby improving your brand’s visibility.
These days, the battle for influence happens on social media, which is where social media brand ambassadors come in. And this is where your employees can do a lot of damage—the good kind, of course.
How to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors
If you want to turn employees into brand ambassadors, you first need to understand why.
In some way or the other, your employees will have interacted with your customers, whether through direct interactions like sales and customer service, or indirect activities like product development and technical support.
All this interaction has led to customers looking to employees as a way to learn about a brand. In fact, the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Study found that the public considers employees as the most reliable source of information about a business (3).
So, the trick is to find ways to engage your employees so they genuinely support your brand, especially when they interact with customers. But beyond that, you also want them to embody the best qualities of your brand when interacting with the world at large.
How do you do this? Continue reading to learn more about building an employee ambassador program.
Employee Ambassador Program Step #1 – Have a Great Culture
The first step to creating an employee ambassador program is making sure your company culture actually supports healthy communication between employees, between management and employees, and employees and customers.
Your company culture sets the tone for how engaged your workers feel with their work. And the more engaged they are, the more likely they’ll take on a positive attitude when talking about your business.
So the question is, how do you foster a great company culture? Oftentimes, it’s just nurturing an environment where your company’s core values and mission are about doing the right thing (4). This avoids the problem of employees feeling conflicted because their values don’t align with yours.
Employee Ambassador Program Step #2 – Communicate Your Brand Value and Image
If you want an effective ambassador program, your employees must have a solid understanding of your image and value proposition.
If you’re a Fortune 500 company, your employees should have a pretty good idea of what the company’s brand value and brand image are. So, no problem there.
But for small businesses, things can be trickier, largely because the business itself is still figuring out its identity. If this is the position you’re in, set aside time to develop a mission and vision statement, identify your unique selling proposition, and work on developing a brand identity.
When hiring new employees, be sure they spend time getting acquainted with your brand. For existing employees, train them to understand the kind of message you want them to send your customers.
Employee Ambassador Program Step #3 – Offer the Right Tools
A successful employee ambassador program is one where workers don’t see the task of communicating with customers and representing your brand as a chore. In fact, you want to make it as easy as possible, making sure you’re giving your people all the tools and resources they need to promote it.
Tools and resources can be as simple as:
- Prepared branded hashtags selected by your marketing and communications team
- Events where employees can interact with customers and industry people
- Training sessions to learn about the company’s history and its desired future
- Branded merchandise that will show their affiliation to your brand with the people they talk with
Employee Ambassador Program Step #4 – Make it About Your Employees Too
Although an employee ambassador program is about promoting your brand to your audience, don’t forget that it’s also about your employees and making them feel they’re a genuine and important part of your organization.
Remember, employee ambassadors want to promote your brand. And the only way to make them want to do this is by empowering them and showing you care about their personal brands, their goals and dreams, and their potential as career professionals.
Take your time to ask your employees important questions, such as:
- What do you feel would make you more productive at work?
- What do you love about working in this company?
- What do you not like about working in this company?
The answers to these questions will help develop your brand as an employer, which in turn, encourages employees to form a stronger bond with you, one they can be proud to share with others.
Employee Ambassador Program Step #5 – Invest in Social Media Training
As mentioned earlier, the battleground for online influence happens on social media. If you want your employee ambassador program to general results, you need to ensure your employees actually know the following:
- How to use social media
- Social media etiquette
- Dos and don’ts when interacting with customers
- Guidelines on how to control social media presence
The solution to this is training. But more importantly, you also want to make sure your employees are comfortable with these policies. Finally, you want to make them feel that representing your brand on social media places a lot of responsibility on their shoulders—a responsibility you’re happy to give them because you trust them.
Closing Thoughts on How to Make Your Employees Brand Ambassadors
Although basic, these 5 steps should lay a solid foundation to help you figure out how to make your employees brand ambassadors, allowing you to leverage the latent ability of your employees to increase your visibility and establish your brand image. With time and consistency, your employees’ actions online and in the real world will help generate likes, shares, and comments. This will drive brand awareness, leads, and of course sales.
If you need advice on how to design and build your company’s employee ambassador program, talk to a PR and branding specialist who appreciates the importance of employee ambassadorship and takes the time to understand your organization and its workforce.
“Don’t sleep on your workers’ ability to be your most ardent advocates,” says Qamar Zaman. “If you treat your employees with love and respect, they’ll be happy to repay the favor.”